By Phil Riske | Senior Reporter/Writer
Astericks or no astericks?
A thorny problem is challenging all news organizations: Do they report profane and vulgar remarks in full or should they paraphrase or abbreviate to get the idea across, without actually publishing such remarks?
The problem is not new, but White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci tangy tweets this week renewed journalistic and First Amendment issues.One can argue pure accuracy would require offensive remarks be reported raw, and let the chips fall where they might. On the other hand, with modified censorship, the impact of such remarks can be understood without offending the various sensitivities of news consumers.
Would those same sensitivities cause the readers of novels to burn the books that contain explicit language?
Do those who would criticize news media for publishing raw quotes still enjoy movies that contain the f-word?
What’s the difference between sh** and the n-word?
Perhaps Associated Press standards are a compromise.
“The AP’s rules prohibit use of obscenities, racial epithets or other offensive slurs ‘unless they are part of a direct quotations and there is a compelling reason for them,’” an Associated Press reporter wrote in an article about the challenges Mr. Scaramucci’s remarks posed for newsrooms, The New York Times reported. “Scaramucci’s words satisfied the first part of that restriction, but editors concluded there wasn’t a compelling reason to use the profanity.”
None of this addresses quotes about sexual or anatomical matters, which, however, present similar debates.
Looking more broadly at what in real life comes from the news media, is video or still photography of gory war or even street killings as vulgar and offensive as lewd remarks from a politician?